By  Amara Bamba


Most influential Muslim women in Europe under the spotlight

With the increasingly growing and widespread negative impression about Muslims worldwide, it becomes necessary to shed light on positive Muslim presence in Europe, particularly with regard to Muslim women. European Muslim women’s positive efforts and achievements frequently go uncelebrated because Muslim women are often unrecognized and negatively portrayed as victims of violent cultural practices, restrictive dress codes, and poor education.

The network Connecting European Dynamic Achievers & Role Models, widely known as CEDAR, has decided to bring some of the most influential Muslim women in Europe under the spotlight. Aiming at a more enriched image, CEDAR initiated the campaign European Muslim Women of Influence List, which the public can contribute to. The list celebrates the great efforts and achievements of Muslim women across Europe.

European Muslim Women Speaking Up (Folder)

CEDAR is the first Muslim network of professionals in Europe. It was launched at a November 2008 workshop organized by the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the Salzburg Global Seminar. The network mainly depends on the growing generations of European Muslim and has branches in 10 European countries.

CEDAR presents role models and offers mentoring services, on- and offline information, and job opportunities. Sofia Hamaz, a program associate at The Institute for Strategic Dialogue responsible for CEDAR, explains,

CEDAR has an agenda including different ambitious and refreshing ideas for European Muslims as citizens who have many things to share despite the differences of ideological tendencies and the languages they speak in their countries.

One of those ideas is a project focusing on the “junior achievement and young enterprise,” where CEDAR tries to support young European Muslims starting new enterprises. Another CEDAR project is an online database of leading Muslim professionals with expertise across the world. The European Muslim Women of Influence List is one of CEDAR’s major projects whose target is diverse, mainstream representation of Muslim women in Europe.

Nominate Now

The process of nomination is very easy: Just go to the Nomination Form of the campaign’s website. Then fill in the form by providing information  about yourself and your nominee. Some general information is also required: a 250-word description of the nominee, along with her résumé. Selection of the winners will be based on a  number of criteria. The nominee should be:

  1. Nominate now. Click here

    A Muslim woman;

  2. An inspiring member of society;
  3. A catalyst for positive and/or innovative change at the local, national, or transnational level;
  4. An individual who has a proven track record of success in any given field (particularly one that is not traditional);
  5. An individual who positively and constructively contributes to public life
    Based or living and working in Europe.

Any European Muslim woman who feels she might be a strong candidate fulfilling the aforementioned criteria is very much welcomed to nominate herself. Thereafter, a board of judges, annually rotated, will declare the 10 most influential European Muslim women for 2010.
History of Les Dérouilleurs

For a long time now, major European Muslim professionals have been much occupied with the concept of enlarging the career opportunities available to people belonging to minority communities.

In January 2004, a small group of French-born Muslims gathered around the idea of a Muslim professional network. They agreed that such an organization had to be an informal network rather than an officially recognized association, because the word network was deeply connected to the Jewish communities at that time.

Consequently, they called themselves les dérouilleurs, an unused word that does not even exist in academic dictionaries; its equivalent in English would be the scalers. Les Dérouilleurs had nothing on the agenda except to meet once every three months in Paris at an “ever-changing place” with a “never-changing project”: to share information on job opportunities. That’s so simple, but it worked!

The 10 winning European Muslim women at EMWI will enjoy the membership of CEDAR and the opportunity to attend high-profile network events across Europe for free. 

Five years later, the network unsurprisingly became too big. Zoubeir ben Terdeyet, who has been leading the initiative from the start, had no choice but to create an official organization with the same strange name: Les Dérouilleurs. Terdeyet is now a CEDAR representative in France. He is also member of the CEDAR committee in charge of the European Muslim Women of Influence List.

Honoring the Winners

The 10 winning European Muslim women will enjoy the membership of CEDAR and the opportunity to attend high-profile network events across Europe for free. By accepting the award, a winner will be committed to championing European Muslim Women of Influence in at least one media interview by being publicly profiled as a “European Muslim Woman of Influence.” Through this campaign, CEDAR aims at raising the European awareness about Muslim women’s contributions and to encourage more Muslim women to follow these great role models.

Do you know a Muslim woman, based in Europe, who has been an inspiring role model, leader, innovator or visionary? Is she a trailblazer in the public or private sector? Is she pursuing a non-traditional career choice successfully? Has she been a catalyst of positive change in her community or beyond?

Nominate her now for the European Muslim Women of Influence List 2010 by completing the Nomination Form! If you fit this description please nominate yourself!

Amara Bamba is the editor-in-chief of, the first French web daily  magazine focusing on Islamic information. He studied Mathematics and communications with a project to create a French media dedicated to Islamic news and information. You may contact him via